Asia

Osaka, Japan

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Last year I decided to visit Japan for two weeks over Chinese New Year. I started my trip by spending 3 days in Osaka before heading to Kyoto. Osaka was a city I found easy to navigate and a great introduction to Japan.

The weather during the beginning of my trip was not the most cooperative. It ended up raining my first 2 days Osaka. I decided to check out the various shopping and food areas since most were covered or easy to dash between. One area I walked around was Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street. This street is well known for shops that sell kitchen and cooking utensils.

Besides exploring the shopping areas, I decided to take a food tour with Drink Osaka. This ended up being my favorite food tour in Japan, and possibly my favorite food tour in Asia. My tour ended up being just the guide (Rodney) and myself. Luckily, Drink Osaka didn’t cancel my tour since no one else booked for the evening I was there!

The tour explored the Dotonbori area of Osaka, which is home to hundreds and hundreds of bars and restaurants. I’ve never seen so many restaurants and bars in one area. Dotonobori is busy with locals and tourists trying the various foods and bars. During my tour I tried kushikatsu, okonomiyaki, and takoyaki. We also stopped at two local bars to sample sake and Japanese whisky.

Rodney then took me to a restaurant not included on the tour, where I had the opportunity to purchase and try fugu. Fugu (blowfish) is a poisonous fish and that should only be prepared by certified chefs. The restaurant had less than 10 seats and somewhere I never would have found on my own. Supposedly Jay-Z visited the same restaurant the year before during his visit to Osaka.

I tried fugu two different way. One version was roasted fugu in warm sake, known as Hirezake. The other was fugu served with soy sauce. I had the chance to try handmade tofu, which was some of the best tofu I’ve tried.

 

Accommodation: ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka

IMG_2906During my time in Osaka I stayed at the ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka. The hotel is located in downtown Osaka and overlooks the nearby Dojima River and highway. There are multiple subway stations nearby and a free shuttle to Osaka Station.

The ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka was modern and recently updated before my stay. Upon check-in I was upgraded to a queen room with a view due to my IHG status. The room was the largest and most spacious I encountered during my trip to Japan. There was even a small sitting area that overlooked the Dojima River and highway. The only downside was the noise late one night from the nearby highway. The highway is popular with the infamous street racing that takes place in Osaka.

 

I moved to China!

Cultural Street

I know it has been a long time since I posted but there is really a good excuse as to why I’ve neglected my blog. Not only did I move once last year, I moved twice! First was from Miami to Washington State, then followed by my big move to China.

Preparing for moving to China was a huge challenge. The Z-Visa (Work Visa) kept adding additional requirements throughout the few month long process. Every time I turned around there was something new or additional I needed to complete. Obtaining my visa was around a four-month process with the paper work, authenticated documents, and medical exam.

On top of the documentation, the San Francisco Chinese consulate was one of the first in the United States to require a personal appearance and fingerprinting. This required me having to make a short trip to San Francisco just a few weeks before I needed to be in China.

My work ended up leaving most of the visa process to me to figure out. Now I feel like an expert on obtaining Z-visas since I literally learned the ins and outs of the entire process! I’m glad I don’t have to reapply for my visa again since now I have a Chinese residency permit!

Tianjin

So now you are probably wondering where and what I do in China! Currently I’m working as a professor for a university in Tianjin that partners with an American university. And no, I’m not teaching English!!! I’m teaching hospitality courses with most of my focus on beverage and wine.

Besides working, I’ve had some time to explore Tianjin and go out a bit. Besides exploring Tianjin, I luckily had some time to go on vacation during two of the semester vacations. For Golden Week in October I visited South Korea and for Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival) in February I visited Japan. I plan on writing about South Korea, Japan, and Tianjin soon!

Most of this last year has been working, which took up a lot of my free time. Now life should be a bit easier since I’ve created most of my classes and lectures.